Petoskey, Michigan-based BioStar Ventures stands unique in the medical devices space, placing prime emphasis on science. “We focus on what we know best,” said Managing Director Dr. Steven Almany. “We have assembled a world-class scientific advisory board with emphasis on cardiovascular and orthopedic medical devices. It is unique within the industry in that the doctors are partners in the fund.”
Founder and Senior Managing Director Dr. Louis Cannon said BioStar has deep business expertise, but its business deals must match science and clinical demands. “Most venture groups start on the business side, and they use physicians and advisors as consultants, having domain expertise in a certain area,” he said. “We’ve taken most of the physician advisors and strategic advisors to the big companies, established what the patient needs are and the clinical needs for frugal medicine, and we go out and look for answers to the clinical problems.”
BioStar deals exclusively in medical device technology. Its first fund closed about two years ago with nine of its 13 companies achieving exits. The second fund has already seen two acquisitions, and its net asset value has increased. An investment in Ablative Solutions is its first in a Michigan-based company.
One of BioStar’s portfolio companies, Kona Medical, presented at last year’s Michigan Growth Capital Symposium (MGCS). The company offers an application to treat hypertension in a non-invasive manner. “Basically someone would sit in a hypertension treatment chair,” Cannon said. “They might be in this chair for 20 minutes. Their blood pressure would be treated for three to five years, and maybe actually a lifetime.”
Cannon notes that the MGCS allows for networking with other Michigan-based funds and companies. “Michigan is focused on Ann Arbor and the Detroit area for the most part, and Kalamazoo. But I think what happens is we miss the deep relationships that other venture capital groups bring to the table,” he said. “The MGCS allows us to really get to know the Michigan groups better. It’s an eye-opener for all the good things that are happening in Michigan.”